dresses! (and other thoughts about the New York spring collections)

Looking through the spring looks at New York Fashion Week, I must say I am still in the mood for dresses - having finally gotten over my 20-year penchant for separates. Maybe it was the haircut I got last year - I needed a more feminised look to balance the boy-chic of the hair.

Or maybe it happened that dresses have been a huge trend for the past year - if you go clubbing you'd have noticed that all the fashion-y girls are wearing dresses (when they're not in chic shorts) when 18 months ago they'd be in jeans, a skimpy top, and strappy heels.

Whatever it is, dresses rang my bells as I clicked through style.com (by the way, just realised that I forgot to credit the runway pictures I used in all my previous posts, they're all from style.com and elle.com), and I decided that I needed to devote a post to the top dresses of the collections so far.

Most of them are by Marc Jacobs, whose collection I snorted at on first sight, and then on second thought, found quite beautiful. Marc Jacobs is curiously enough, one of those designers whom I think I should like more, but somehow always fails to appeal to me when I examine the clothes more closely. I've always prefered his Marc by Marc Jacobs line, which distills the feel of his higher end collection without looking erm, silly. But thedresses in this collection are great, kind of a cartoon-ish, futuristic flapper, and I do love the 1920s. Few designers do modern flapper looks well - it always ends up looking too much like a homage or a costume, but Marc Jacobs, who was probably born to be a cool teenager, knows how to make it street.

There's also lots of Vera Wang, whose creations I am starting to love more and more - I love how she's completely grown as a designer and is no longer just the maker of those duchess satin strapless wedding dresses.
I raved about her resort collection a while back, and I love how her new collection echos that ballet feel, and the muted colours (huge spring trend at the shows) is right up my alley.

After a few seasons of not doing anything for me, Narciso Rodriguez did a great remix of his classic structural looks for spring, and for the first time in a long time, reminded me that he's the only guy who gets minimalism right ALL THE TIME - his vision never compromises to the trends dicated by everyone else. Apart from the dresses - I love the teal satin with the black breastplate detail, my Oscar dress if there was ever one - the narrow trouser suits and the sharp jackets were also perfect examples of tailoring that did not allude to the whole menswear thing, which is refreshing.

3.1 Phillip Lim is label I adore - it is chic, elegant, slightly quirky, very urban, very effortless, all at once. It's not particularly directional, but that's actually what I like about, and unlike a few designers of similar aesthetic, Phillip Lim at least does not charge high fashion prices for his clothes. Still expensive by average standards, but at least I don't look and think, you're joking.
This season he did more of those shifts I love - why isn't someone making affordable mass market versions of those so that I can stop drooling and sighing - and I think his collection encapsulates the promise and wide range American sportwear actually has. It isn't just Micheal Kors cashmere - it can be breezy pretty like Phillip Lim or conceptual like Donna Karan or romantic like Vera Wang; all without sacrificing the ease that makes American fashion special.

The same would go for Sari Gueron, who did an entire collection that went well with Birkenstocks! It wasn't particularly groundbreaking, but it's one of those collections I would actually buy, it having the virtue of being immensely wearable, and the casual vibe really spoke to me, because I am ultimately a casual person. My standard shopping litmus test: Will this go with flip flops? I can't think of a collection that would have suited Singaporean weather and casual-dress culture more.

A+E by Adam and Eve was a pretty straightforward collection of its usual lovely pieces, nothing much going there that's earthshattering, but two dresses stood out for me. I like the little knit vest worn with the first, very insouciant, and the second has a row of cloth-covered buttons, and I have this thing for long rows of buttons. I also like the loose, trapeze-but-unstructured cut - anything that feels like a baggy t-shirt when worn but is infinitely pretty gets my vote. Also really like the white satin short-sleeved jacket. I liked the one Balenciaga did for fall, but this one did it for me - I officially want one now.

Finally, Proenza Schouler, a label I've liked since the popped up on the Vogue radar some years back, I really can't remember when. I like how they've always tried to break new ground with their collection and how they've created a signature aesthetic (like the way Vera Wang has experted refined her over the years). This season however, I am more than a littled concerned that they've borrowed from the last two Chloe collections - the shirt-tucked-into-the-flared skirt combo is definitely a little deriative - and there was one coat (not shown here) that looked more than a little Prada, spring 2005, not the mention the sequined sheath that reminded me of the Lanvin piece Alber Elbaz showed for spring 2006 - right down to the platforms worn with them!

The saving grace here is that they brought an ease into the looks that I didn't like at Chloe or Prada, and it really still works here because they've done it well, but I was still slightly disappointed. Nonetheless, the fact that I liked the looks earns it a spot in my favourites list, and bright spots from the collection include the great use of awkward, less commonly-used colours, two very cool quilted leather pieces - one cute cropped sleeved coat and a very Jackie O-ish boxy jacket - and the Herve Leger-inspired dress with the flared skirt.

All pictures from style.com


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